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Between Berlin and Vicar Street

On Monday the 19th of May 2014, at around 8 pm, I was walking back to a rented apartment near Schöneberg in Berlin. I had just shared a number of beers with a close friend, whose wedding I was there to celebrate, in a small bar on the wonderfully named Dickhardtstraße. I had built enough time into my evening so that I could try a number of kebab houses along the way, the Berlin Doner is a unique culinary treat, and my intention was to visit at least two particularly famous restaurants on my way home.

As I was walking, I browsed the internet on my phone; of particular interest was The Irish Times website, as it was hosting the announcement of the 2014 ICAD Awards’ Commendations. As I scrolled through its various pages I found my work. Two projects, two commendations. I had won at ICAD in the past, but never alone, and the time that had elapsed between that point and this, had been the most challenging period of my professional career. The last recession, which seems like child’s play now, had removed so much from my life, and left me with what felt like an insurmountable burden. As I flicked between those commended projects time and again, I felt a great sense of happiness, of pride, of achievement. Simply being a part of that collection of ICAD members, and the exhibition of their work, felt like I had arrived – I’m not sure where, but arrived nonetheless.

Three weeks later I sat in a corner at Vicar Street with my then girlfriend, now wife, and waited for the call. As the awards drew to a close and the call never came, I felt ill. I am not sure how long it took me to move from feeling hard done by to understanding that the work simply had not met the standard to deserve the Bell, and from there to the realisation that those commendations were an achievement that entirely deserved celebrating. Part of me would have preferred to remain in that space between Berlin and Vicar Street, a space where I had felt so good. We have said it before, and I am happy to reiterate again, the simple fact is that this year’s awards have to mean more. They are about creating that moment. It’s about celebrating the best of Irish advertising and design and providing our community with a very positive point in the future to aim for. As for the Bells, we will all just have to wait, and do so in a space just like the one between Berlin and Vicar Street, and that, I assure you, is a nice place to be.

Insights by Rossi McAuley
Principle Designer at Distinctive Repetition and President of the Institute of Creative Advertising and Design.